Red Sox being Red Sox not enough in October

Dan Wetzel

CLEVELAND – Ole Manny hit the hell out of it all right, absolutely blasting a 3-2 Jensen Lewis fastball deep into the Ohio night. It was a gasp-inducing, head-snapping shot that didn't stop mesmerizing the masses until it landed seemingly a mile away.

Even the 44,008 Cleveland Indians fans here marveled at it. Manny Ramirez did, too. He saw the entire thing because he stood in the batter's box and watched it in all its glory before raising his arms in triumph, like it was the game winner from the Los Angeles Angels series. Then he trotted around the bases slower than a Tim Wakefield fastball.

He was proud. He was pleased. He was a peacock.

He was behind 7-3. He and his Boston Red Sox still were well on their way to a 3-1 American League championship series deficit to the Indians.

Not that Ole Manny seemed to realize or care at that moment.

Celebrating and taunting a solo shot to bring your team within four? This is what they call "Manny being Manny." There was a reasonable chance he didn't even know the score or situation when he hit it.

But maybe this is just what they should call the Red Sox being the Red Sox.

Backs to winter, their starters getting scorched, their defense fumbling at the most inopportune times and their hitters virtually hitless, Boston is in a lot of trouble.

Cleveland hasn't just hit and pitched and managed better in this series, they just may be better, a startling reality to a team that just three games ago was cruising through the playoffs like they thought they were the Rockies.

Not that you could tell in the Red Sox clubhouse after the game.

There were no signs of panic, few looks of frustration, almost no recognition of the severity of the situation or the quality of the opposition.

Score? Situation? Ah, let the fans worry about that. This is the Red Sox being the Red Sox.

"For us there's no tomorrow," said Kevin Youkilis, like this might be a good thing. "Teams are always dangerous when there's no tomorrow."

The Red Sox either are crazy overconfident or just crazy like a fox. Time, starting with Game 5 here Thursday, will tell.

With a fan base now on the edge, a season on the brink and a stunning collapse just one game away, the Red Sox are whistling past the graveyard, talking about luck, breaks and 2004.

"A lot of times it's just things, lucky bounces you get," Youkilis said. "I'm not saying it's just luck, there's a lot of skill, but …"

"Breaks happen," said Jason Varitek. "And we haven't had many."

"Stuff like this happens," said Jon Lester.

The Red Sox talked about Wakefield deflecting a sure-bet double-play ball and turning it into the infield hit that fueled the Indians' offensive explosion.

They weren't talking about their third consecutive starter getting chased in the fifth inning.

They were talking about how their hard-hit balls kept getting turned into double plays.

They weren't talking about how their bullpen couldn't bail out Wakefield and how the opportunistic Indians posted their second seven-run inning of the series.

They were talking about Dustin Pedroia lining a ball about three inches too low, allowing a leaping Asdrubal Cabrera to make a brilliant catch.

They weren't talking about how great that catch was or how, in desperate need of a rally, they sent just 12 players to the plate to record their final 12 outs, a supposed lion of an offense going out like a lamb.

The Red Sox apparently are down not because of poor play or a superior opponent but, well, no one seems to know or really care to worry about it.

This, of course, is patently ridiculous except for the way the Sox rallied from an 0-3 hole to the New York Yankees three years ago, shrugging off the doom, gloom and supposed curses around them and laughing in the face of pressure. So who knows, maybe this is the only way. Maybe this is the secret.

"That's the great thing about the playoffs," Varitek said. "What happened today doesn't matter tomorrow."

But what about when it keeps happening again and again and again? And what if one more "again" is it?

They've got their ace Josh Beckett going in Game 5, and that can change the momentum. The rally cry seems to be to force their way back to Fenway Park where the fans will lift them, although that didn't help in Game 2.

Whatever, here they were, shrugging off the obvious mistakes, explaining away the failures and celebrating meaningless homers.

The Sox either are clueless or clued in, and just like with Ole Manny, you never really know.